San Jose State hosts Louisiana Tech in a Western Athletic Conference battle this Saturday night and I have made this matchup my Game of the Year for 2006. Louisiana Tech has been getting beat up on by giants all season long. They were crushed by Nebraska, Texas A&M, Clemson, and Boise State (all currently in the AP top 25). Last week the Bulldogs captured their first league win of the season with a 48-35 defeat of Utah State.
The San Jose State Spartans do not have momentum on their side heading into this one. They carried a four-game winning streak into last week before being silenced by the Nevada Wolf Pack. San Jose State has history narrowly on its side this week as the Spartans rule the all-time series against the Bulldogs three games to two, but Louisiana Tech has won two of the last three meetings including last season’s 31-14 win.
Last week the Bulldogs scored 48 points, which was their highest point total in two seasons. They did most of their offensive damage on the ground rushing for 344 yards which was the most by any team in the WAC this season. Despite the huge offensive explosion last week, the Bulldogs are just eighth in the conference in scoring averaging 18.7 points per game. Perhaps, last week’s game was their coming out party. If that is the case, the Spartans will have to pay close attention to both Daniel Porter and Patrick Jackson out of the backfield. Jackson leads the Bulldogs in rushing with 441 yards and five touchdowns but Porter is coming on strong and is averaging nearly seven yards per carry. Quarterback Zac Champion had a break out game throwing for 226 yards and four touchdowns, but he nevertheless has one less touchdown than interceptions on the season. Some of this has to do with the high quality non-conference schedule the Bulldogs have played, but I think it will be the running game that will give them the best chance against the Spartans on Saturday night.
San Jose State was dominated by Nevada last week, but they should be able to score on Louisiana Tech’s defense. How much they score will depend largely on quarterback Adam Tafralis who threw for just 68 yards last week. The running game is also the Spartans strong suit. Yonus Davis picked up 100 yards on the ground last week despite the Spartans possessing the ball just 20 minutes. One big plus the Spartans have is Dwight Lowery who came up with his eighth pick of the season last week and seems to make a big play every game. Champion will have to stay away from him. He should have the time to do so as the Spartans are one of the worst teams in the nation at putting pressure on the quarterback. In fact, they are ranked 117th in the country in sacks.
How big of a role will momentum play? How important will home field be? Is history any indicator? I have dissected Saturday’s 2006 Game of the Year inside and out and I am ready to deliver my biggest winner of the year.